Rust in the iron pan: what to do?

Rust usually appears on iron pans when they accidentally end up in the dishwasher or are rinsed with detergent. This is because the protective oil film then disappears from the inner surface, and the iron comes into contact with water. It’s a good thing that iron pans don’t have an artificial non-stick coating on them, because this makes them relatively easy to remove rust from and they are ready for use again after a short time!

What you can do if the pan rusts

If a cast iron pan or a wrought iron pan rusts, then this rust can be removed relatively easily. If there is only a little of the reddish oxidation product on the surface, you can simply wipe it away with a rag soaked in cooking oil.

For coarser rust spots, pick up a steel wool sponge and scrub the iron pan vigorously. This is because an iron pan has no protective coating other than the baked-on oil patina that develops over time.

After rust removal, thoroughly remove any rust dust that has formed and then thoroughly re-oil the pan. Better yet, re-burn your iron skillet to give it a new, effective protective coating.

Re-baking the iron pan after rust removal

When re-baking, simply treat your cooking utensil as if you just bought it. Oil, salt and potato peelings are all suitable for burn-in.

  • First, fill the pan a few millimeters deep with cooking oil.
  • Heat the oil vigorously.
  • Then add plenty of salt and potato peels.
  • Open the windows and turn on the extractor hood.
  • Fry the peels until blackened on all sides.
  • When the skins are blackened, let them cool.
  • Now discard the pan contents and rinse the pan with water.
  • Finally, apply a film of oil to the pan surface.

This isn’t the only baked-on method that will give an iron skillet a protective patina. You may have saved your pan’s instruction manual, you may discover another method there.

Less smoke is associated with baking the oiled iron pan upside down on the oven rack in the oven. This forms a more even, but still very thin, protective layer.

Care for your iron skillet as you did in grandmother’s day: If you wash it out with warm water after each use and then rub it with a bacon rind, it will last you many decades.

William C Arpin

William C Arpin

I like to test products and recommend the best ones, write reviews, travel and spend time with my family.

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